Friday, May 25, 2012

Sudden Creation Events

“Sudden Creation Events” may not implicitly suggest that a discussion of evolution will follow. My conversations with theistic evolutionists often distill to time frames for evolution events. Did God front-load primeval matter and then observe the slow changes to follow? Theistic evolutionists may find this imagery to their liking. More specifically, they may claim earth life has evolved, changed, or progressed rather like a non-stop, leisurely spiral journey by foot up a large mountain from the base to the summit. Travelers reaching the summit possess a genetic ancestry linking them to the original traveler, evolutionary geneticists maintain.

The theistic progressive creationist, by contrast, would spice up the trip journal with accounts of sudden creation events: Using similar journeying imagery, the ascent up the mountain would be joined suddenly by new travelers as older ones quit the journey. Paleontologists would describe this in terms of extinctions followed by the appearance of new forms. Creationist geneticists would account for similar genetic coding patterns across different species by the Creator’s repeated use of a common template.

Theistic evolutionists (evolutionary creationists) and theistic creationists would both declare that God supervises the process. Theistic evolutionists may even claim God guides the process. Theistic creationists, by contrast, would say God creates a new species which did not exist before. There may be similarities from species to species, but the similarities do not indicate common ancestry. Rather, they highlight repeated use of similar portions of the genetic blueprint by an all-wise creator. Stephen C. Meyer has written effectively about the appearance of new species and its implication for the ID and creationist perspective in “Intelligent Design: The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories” published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington in 2005. This essay provoked a controversy because it leaked through the usual safety net for preventing publication of design proposals in a secular publication.

Meyer wrote that evolutionary biologists have not “identified a specifically causal explanation for the origin of true morphological novelty during the history of life.” More plainly, Meyer develops the case that a species A to species B evolutionary transition would entail the simultaneous production of new proteins, then new cell types, followed by new tissues, new organs, new body plans, and finally, a new organism. The gradualism demanded of the well known evolutionary pathways of mutation and natural selection would not account for such a sudden transition to a new species. If the transition were contingent upon the occurrence of thousands of correctly sequenced steps, the probability that a new species would appear is remote beyond comprehension. It is no wonder that the evolutionary science officials of the Biological Society were not pleased such an essay appeared in their evolutionary journal.

What may we say about God guiding the process of evolution? For example, could God see millions of mutation-generating cosmic rays in advance? Could he oversee the random selection process? Philosopher and Christian apologist Alvin Plantinga claims “God certainly could have used Darwinian processes to create the living world and direct it as he wanted it to go.” If God actually used such a method for directing the evolutionary process, it would have entailed almost unlimited contingencies. Every event would have been a “miracle of God,” pre-programmed to accomplish his divine will in the creation process.

If, however, God actually intervened in a miraculous fashion to produce novel species, in seeming conformity with the fossil record, sudden creation events are confirmed. Hundreds of biblical accounts of creation events are confirmed as factual, not merely understood in a more general, theological context.

Evolutionary theory is appealing. It is nourished by the ability of man to “figure things out.” It is supported by man’s ability to rationalize, affording him a sense of empowerment. Creation events to account for the appearance of novel species, however, somewhat diminish our human ability to rationalize, explain, and elaborate. However, highlighting supernatural creation events returns the focus to God.